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The Desert Rats (8-May-1953)

Director: Robert Wise

Writer: Richard Murphy

Music: Leigh Harline

Producer: Robert L. Jacks

Keywords: Drama, WWII, North African Campaign

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Richard Burton
10-Nov-1925 5-Aug-1984 Nineteen Eighty Four
Robert Douglas
9-Nov-1909 11-Jan-1999 Homicide
James Mason
15-May-1909 27-Jul-1984 North by Northwest
Robert Newton
1-Jun-1905 25-Mar-1956 Long John Silver
Chips Rafferty
26-Mar-1909 27-May-1971 Wake in Fright
Torin Thatcher
15-Jan-1905 4-Mar-1981 The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
Charles Tingwell
3-Jan-1923 15-May-2009 Breaker Morant


Richard Burton   ...   Capt. MacRoberts ("Tammy")
Robert Newton   ...   Bartlett
Robert Douglas   ...   General
Torin Thatcher   ...   Barney
Chips Rafferty   ...   Smith ("Blue")
Charles Tingwell   ...   Lt. Carstairs
Charles Davis   ...   Pete
Ben Wright   ...   Mick
James Mason   ...   Erwin Rommel


Review by Talisien (posted on 22-Mar-2005)

It is certainly a technically high standard film for its time. Robert Wise, the director, is a master in cutting and has a natural feeling to give scenes a realistic allure. The film itself was made shortly after another film about the operations in the second World War in Africa; The Desert Fox. Because Rommel came out so well in that movie, 20th Century Fox decided to make yet another film about the subject with the heroic deeds of the allied forces in Egypt. The result is the story of the 8th Army defending Tobruk and standing against the brutal power of Rommel's artillery and pantzer-division. What we see is a story about endurance, suffrance and heroism. An experienced captain, Tammy MacRoberts, is being put in command of the newly arrived Australian forces, and is to make of them experienced and ferocious soldiers. From the green "boys" they are in the beginning of the film, one can see them evolve into highly experienced and by the high command greatly valued forces, who are to defend the most dangerous position in the area. The week they were supposed to hold the position, turns to two months and the reinforcements seem never to arrive till in the end. What we see is a beautiful picture -that Wise has drawn- of characters; the contrast between the captain and his soldiers, his inpopularity evolves to appreciation until his men are as one with his command. This film is certainly worthwhile to see, although it is off course still a movie from the 50's, and one cannot expect great special effects or decors. A great plus point is that the film has used authentic video images from the war.

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